Immigration judge calls Barr's move to deny asylum-seekers bond hearings 'highly problematic'

Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor called the Justice Department’s latest move to deny asylum-seekers bond hearings “highly problematic,” saying courts should not be used as a political tool by law enforcement.

“This in terms of the procedure that has been used is highly problematic,” Tabaddor, who is the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball in an appearance on "Rising."

“It is allowing the chief prosecutor of the United States to step in, in the middle of judicial proceedings and rewrite the law,” she continued.

Tabaddor added that Barr's move is another example of why the immigrant court system should function independently of the Justice Department.

"It yet highlights again why immigration court proceedings should really be removed from the Justice Department and be outside of the purview of the political usage of the court as an extension of law enforcement," she told Hill.TV.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats Democrats sense new momentum in Trump tax return fight Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE last week issued a new order directing immigration judges not to release asylum-seekers and detain them indefinitely while they await their court hearings. 

Barr's decision reverses a 2005 order, which said certain migrants who passed a “credible fear” interview could stay in the U.S. and seek release on bond until their case is heard in court. But Barr wrote that only the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to release asylum seekers.

The change comes amid an ongoing legal battle over the Trump administration’s policy that requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims make their way through the immigration court system.

Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the policy, saying it failed to protect migrants from danger. Days later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals took action allowing the Trump administration to temporarily resume returning asylum-seekers to Mexico as it considers the administration’s appeal to the injunction.

Trump’s program of returning migrants to Mexico was initially launched in January, and the program is part of the administration’s crackdown on the recent influx of migrants at the southern border. 

During a recent visit to the border, Trump said the U.S. is being overwhelmed by Central American migrants seeking asylum.

 “We can’t take you anymore. I’m sorry. Can’t happen, so turn around,” Trump said, referring to the migrants.

—Tess Bonn